On nanotechnology, experts see more risks than public
By Marlowe Hood | news.yahoo.com
In a surprising reversal of roles, nanotechnology scientists outrival the general public in seeing a cause for concern in some aspects of their work, according to a study published Sunday.
Nanotechnology -- the science of making things measured in units 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair -- holds spectacular promise in virtually every sector.
Hundreds of consumer products already contain nano materials, most of which are cosmetics, sunscreens and cleaning products with microscopic particles.
But this is the only first step in what promoters of nano say is a revolution whose impact will be outsized compared to the technology's tiny scale.
In medicine, potential applications range from in-body diagnostic devices to tissue engineering to pinpoint drug delivery.
Nanomaterials far lighter and stronger than anything in use today could revolutionise the auto and airplane industries, and parallel developments are underway for robotics, computers, clothing, energy storage and air purification.
Two surveys, conducted among 363 nanotechnology scientists and engineers and among 1,015 US adults, find an intriguing contrast in attitudes about this fast-moving yet untested technology.
The average Joe and Jane are more worried than the experts that nano will cause job losses, an arms race and a loss of privacy, according to the surveys published on Sunday in Nature.
The scientists, unsurprisingly, say their work will lead to major breakthroughs in medicine, environmental cleanup and national defence.
But they are also significantly more concerned than the public about the risk of more pollution and unforeseen health problems from nano.
The authors of the study, led by Dietram Scheufele of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, chalk up this gap in viewpoints to two things.
One is that scientists have already launched a debate among themselves about nano-related risks, and lament a lack of research in this field. At the same time, the media promote the potential benefits of nano and downplay the risk aspect, thus giving a distorted view to the public.
Researchers looking at nano risks are focussing on any effect on health from minute particles that are breathed in to the lungs or from putative nano-robots that would be inserted into the body to repair damaged tissue. Questions have also been raised as to whether nano materials could be toxic, for health and the environment.
"The Nano story is one of very slow and rather weak regulatory responses," commented Nigel Cameron, head of the Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future at the Illinois Institute of Technology and an expert on nanotechnology.
"Public and political awareness of the technology -- even though we have been talking about it for some time -- is amazingly low," he said in an interview with AFP.
In the past, the arrival of new technologies such as nuclear power or genetically-modified organisms are typically greeted with public enthusiasm followed by disquiet when an accident happens or other risks become apparent.
Such backlashes have had a crippling effect in some countries, prompting a freeze or pullout from nuclear power or a moratorium on genetically-engineered crops.
By addressing the risks before their technology widely enters the public domain, nano experts hope to forestall this backward swing of the pendulum.
"Nanotechnology may... be the first emerging technology for which scientists may have to explain to the public why they should be more rather than less concerned about some potential risks," said Scheufele.
Bring on the nanobots, and we will live long and prosper
Chips push through nano-barrier
The Electron, Nanotechnology, and Solar Power
Douglas Mulhall - Nanotechnology, Our Molecular Future (Audio)
Nano-propellers sent for a spin
Antique engines inspire nano chip
Nanogenerator provides continuous power by harvesting energy from the environment
Nanotechnology Risks Unknown
The next big bang: Man meets machine
Better... Stronger... Faster... the engineered human
Physicists have 'solved' mystery of levitation
Berkeley Physicists Make a Radio 10,000 Times Thinner Than a Human Hair
South African Solar Research Eclipses Rest of the World
Aubrey de Grey, Artificial Intelligence, Singularity, Longevity and the Holy Grail
The Creation of Smarter Than Human Intelligence
Patent sought on 'synthetic life'
'Darth Venter' (J. Craig Venter) & The Archon Genomics X Prize
The Invincible Man
Lifespan link to antidepressant drug
Latest News from our Front Page
Physician Linking Autism - Vaccines Found Shot Dead.
James Jeffrey Bradstreet was a hero to many parents. He spent a great part of his life trying to fight for those children who sustained injuries from vaccines via the creation of medical procedures. This included his very own son.
Clearly, his ideas and concepts and science were not accepted by all and created a great many heated debates online. On ...
Pedophiles Now Demanding Equality - Wanting Their Equal Rights to Marriage
Using the same tactics used by “gay” rights activists, pedophiles have begun to seek similar status arguing their desire for children is a sexual orientation no different than heterosexual or homosexuals.
Critics of the homosexual lifestyle have long claimed that once it became acceptable to identify homosexuality as simply an “alternative lifestyle” or sexual orientation, logically nothing would be off limits ...
Time: Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn To Live as Exiles in Our Own Country
Rod Dreher is a senior editor and blogger at The American Conservative.
Voting Republican and other failed culture war strategies are not going to save us now.
No, the sky is not falling — not yet, anyway — but with the Supreme Court ruling constitutionalizing same-sex marriage, the ground under our feet has shifted tectonically.
It is hard to overstate the significance of ...
Obama: Americans need to shift religious views
From RamZPaul: Friday, President Obama gave a speech in which he said Americans need to change their religious views to be accepting of gay marriage.
11 Fake European Towns and Landmarks Made in China
We’ve known the Chinese to imitate almost everything. From luxury bags to whatever the fad is, they have it already freshly made. We’ve also known that Chinese tourists traveling around the world continue to increase due to rising incomes and less restrictive passport regime. Europe is one of the mostly visited continents and more campaigns have been launched in some ...
|More News » |